Lueders Studio, 427 Broadway

When I ran photographs of a doctor’s office at 714 Broadway, several readers commented that the building looked a lot like what used to be Lueders Studio at 427 Broadway. I don’t know if they were built by the same person, but they were constructed in the same Spanish Revival style. I think the bricks above must have been painted, because I remembered the building as being more the same shade as the Wilson/Estes office. [Click on any photo to make it larger.]

Everybody was shot by Frony and Lueders

I once wrote that there’s probably nobody who lived in Southeast Missouri between 1927 and 1986 who hadn’t had his or her picture taken by One-Shot Frony. You could say almost the same thing about Lueders Studio, which spanned an even longer period of time. There were other photos studios in that era, but Lueders was the one our family and Central High School turned to document students, engagements, weddings, anniversaries and other special occasions.

Here’s a description from SEMO’s Special Collections website: The Lueders Studio Collection spans seventy years of commercial photographic work by Herbert Lueders, and his sons, Paul and John. Herbert Lueders opened his studio at 427 Broadway Avenue in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 1925. A distinguished photographer, Herbert Lueders won 18 merit awards from the Professional Photographers Association of America for his portrait work. H. L. Lueders’ oldest son, Paul, began the study of photography with his father at the age of eight. Paul joined his father’s studio after returning from World War II, eventually taking over operations and running the studio until his death in 1995. John Lueders, younger brother of Paul, worked for thirty years as the business manager for the studio, as well as a portrait printer and photo retoucher. 

I’m pretty sure some of my baby pictures were taken by Lueders, but I didn’t have time to dig them out to check for his usual mark. The picture above was taken when Lila Perry was officially added to the family. It must have been taken after we got engaged in December of 1968, but before our wedding in June of 1969, because I don’t see a wedding ring on my left hand.

Lila’s wedding photo

Lila thinks this is the best photo that was ever taken of her. Paul Lueders was a perfectionist. He didn’t like the way her dress fell and waiting for her to grow taller wasn’t an option, so he had her stand on a couple of Sagamore yearbooks (If you look closely, you can barely see them in the photo.

I feel a little guilty about reproducing these photographs. I still cringe when I think about a visit Jim Stone and I made to the studio one afternoon, probably to pick up our senior pictures. Jim was his neighbor, so he had the nerve to ask Mr. Lueders if we could borrow the negatives to make some prints. I know now how much of a faux pas that is: studios make their living off reprints.

Instead of throwing us out of the studio, he diplomatically said, “I’m very particular about the way my photographs are printed, and I don’t let anyone else make prints of the negatives because my reputation is on the line.”

Our photo as a couple

When we made a pass through Cape in 1971, we stopped to have an updated portrait done. Mr. Lueders must not have had many people to talk technique to, because I remember him showing me more about large format photography than I ever saw in classes at Ohio University. Photos like ours and school photos were the bread and butter, but he also wanted to pull out dye transfer color that he had shot of Cape landmarks. He was proud of his work, for good reason.

Back for a family portrait

In 1985, when Matt was 10 and Adam 5, it was time for an updated shot. These copies on a computer screen don’t do the original works justice. I’ve spent enough hours in the darkroom to know how hard it is to get the tonal range that Mr. Lueders did. He could hold detail in the darkest black and the whitest white.

After we moved to Florida, we posed for a local studio that had a reasonable reputation. When we went to pick up the prints, I told the photographer that they weren’t acceptable, then I went to get some Lueders photos to show him what a REAL portrait should look like. He reshot the photos, but I could tell that he would never be able to come close to the quality I grew up with in Cape. Those were the last studio portraits we had made.

Adam’s last Lueders photo

This must have been taken in 1990, when we took our Great Western Vacation trip. The date’s not written on the back, but Lila guessed Adam was about 10, because that’s about when he started playing baseball. These were the first – and only – color photos we had made there. To be honest, I prefer the black and white.

Matt’s photo

Matt’s about 15 in this photo. Where Adam was into sports, Matt was interested in photography (and pretty good at it. Both boys won national photo contests).

When I heard that Mr. Lueders had died, I  was afraid that a huge chuck of the region’s history could be lost, based on my experience in southern Ohio where I tried to track down the film of several old photo studios. In every case, the files had been consigned to the landfill.

That’s not unusual. I found these old glass negatives being used as window panes in a Perry County building in Frohna in 1966.

Lueders photos to be preserved

It was a great relief to hear that the Lueders photographs have been acquired to be part of  Southeast Missouri State University’s Special Collections and Archives Digital Collections. The really neat thing is that they are putting the photos online.

The website says, The Lueders Studio Collection is a “who’s who” of Southeast Missouri and the surrounding region, containing approximately 75,000 images of local people, families, politicians, businesses and events. While the Lueders Studio specialized in portrait photography, they also hired out for advertising work and photography related to insurance claims.

The photographs in the digital collection represent the studio’s commercial photography work, not portraiture.  Interior and exterior views of Cape Girardeau businesses in the mid-twentieth century are represented here, along with street scenes, images of downtown floods, churches and schools, events and community groups.

If you enjoy seeing the photos on this blog, you’ll REALLY enjoy seeing the wide range of photos in the Lueders Collection.

I’m sure we’ll be revisiting Lueders Studio again. Somewhere I’ve seen photos of Paul Lueders when he and Dad were in Central High School’s Kodak Club in the 1930s.


35 Replies to “Lueders Studio, 427 Broadway”

  1. Mr. Leuders was my merit badge counselor for the Photography merit badge in Boy Scouts. He made quite an impression and is the only counselor I remember some 40+ years later. I can still see him describing how photography was like “drawing with light”, and he showed me night-time pictures he took at the bottom of the Marquette quarry with powerful lights in which he did just that. It was obvious he was passionate about his art.

    1. If you showed even a smidgen of interest in photography, you were in for a wild ride when you talked with him.

      To use a phrase associated with how Bill Gates imparted information, “it was like being fed with a fire hose.”

      Studio photography was the last thing in the world I wanted to do, but I sure wish I had picked his brain when I had a chance. It would have been a world-class education.

  2. Leuders Studios was a centerpiece of our family’s life. My Dad was a friend of Paul Leuders and I think Daddy became interested in photography himself because of Paul. For forty years Paul Leuders shot the 100-plus members of our Vandivort Family at the annual reunions……as well as individual families. He was patient, professional and kind. After I married, the first rite of passage was to have my own Leuders family photograph. I treasure these beautiful works of art. Thank you for taking me down memory lane this morning, Ken.

  3. How true about most everyone having been photographed by Frony and/or Lueders. That is surely true of my own family. On my son’s first birthday I took him to Lueders for that special photograph to mark the event. I have numerous old family photos taken by Lueders and I cherish each of them. Thank you for sharing that Paul’s images have been preserved at SEMO. I have begun looking through them and they are truly a trip down photographic memory lane. Ken, the family photos you shared are wonderful. Thank you – another great topic.

    1. The world is full of bad photographers who make a boatload of money. I was talking the other night to another bike rider about wedding photographers and how it’s a shame that just anybody with a camera can go into the business.

      Most of them are almost capable of pointing a camera and pushing a button to snag a formula picture, but very few can capture the spirit of the event. Paul Lueders could make even high school yearbook mug shots special.

  4. Wow! I knew Dick and Holly Lueders and I guess like everyone else had there picture taken by Mr. Lueder’s. In 1969 or 70 my first wife (Pat Latham) got Mr. Lueders to take a picture of her and Stacy my daughter for a Christmas present. Great shot and a great gift, which I enjoy to this day. The other shot was at Bill Bishop’s wedding, Mr. Lueders took a shot of My Mom, Dad and daughter Stacy all dressed to the “Nines” with me in a rented Tux no less. This pictures hangs on the wall at my dad’s house in Cape, and still brings a lot of pleasure.

  5. Thanks, Ken for sharing a link to our collections on your blog! I enjoyed reading your reminiscences of Paul Lueders. Wish I could have met him. I did meet John and many of the other Lueders family members when we had the opening of the collection in 2005. All lovely people.

    I should mention that for privacy reasons we have only digitized the negatives of public places; but we have tens of thousands of portrait negatives. We are always glad to assist people in locating their negatives and we procured the right to make copies from the family. As you note, though, they will never be the exact same quality as Mr. Paul’s prints.

    1. Thanks for clearing that up. I noticed in the description that it emphasized that only commercial work was available. I’m glad to hear that families can access the portraits, too.

      Just out of curiosity, how did Lueders file and index their photos? By subject, date or some other method?

      In case someone asks, how much do you charge to make prints of portraits?

      1. I’d also be curious to know what size negatives are in the archive and how you could get a good scan of them. Do they even make a scanner that will work with an 8×10 negative?


  6. Thank you for honouring Mr. Lueder’s work. I echo many of the comments here. His portraits of my parents and family are among my prized possessions. He was an artist. So happy that the University has kept the collection.

  7. I remember that one of the brothers (John), had a white ’54 Corvette which was quite unusual to see cruising the streets of Cape Girardeau.

  8. Lueders was the only place our family had pictures made. I remember Mr. Lueders was a very nice and patient man. We had our wedding picture made a month after the wedding because Jerry was away working on the river before and right after. It was quite an occasion to get dressed up again and Jerry’s dad treated us to dinner at Petite N’Orleans afterwards, still in our wedding togs. Thanks for the memories.

  9. Great photos Ken ! As many others have said, Lueder’s was the best of the best ! His black and white photos are really works of art ! I cherish the ones I have !

  10. Mr. Lueder did our wedding photos also in 1967. He was very particular about how my wedding dress touch the floor. He had me standing on some yearbooks so my dress wouldn’t touch the floor. He also took our boys baby pictures. I still cherish all photos he took. He was a perfectionst.

  11. The pictures, 169/170 of the Watkins Shell station in the Lueder’s collection are not where Campus Auto is now. I believe it is across the street by Tipton’s Linen Service. Tipton’s address is 1415 and Watkins was 1401, they should be on the same side of the street and from the picture that is what it looks like to me. The pictures were really good and I enjoyed the site.

    1. Lisa Speer, who commented above, drives the bus in Special Collections. She should get a copy of your comment. Maybe she can have someone check it out.

      (Lisa, you may have to press Ctrl-F5 to refresh your browser to see all the new comments.)

  12. My photo was taken at Lueder’s Studio while still in grade school probably by the father since I graduated from CHS in 1954. To my recollection, one of the Lueders had a fine arts degree from Washington Univ. in St. Louis.

  13. Paul Lueders was indeed a talented photographer and as good a man. I traveled back to Cape with each of my three daughters for a toddler portrait and each is as one would have expected. Alas, the studio had closed by the time my son was born and somehow his portrait is a bit incomplete.

  14. I thought the whole piece about Lueder’s Studio was terrific. They were amazing photographers. I am sure that the negatives were at least 4×5. The Lueders were truly talented and always chose the finest photographic papers to enhance their pictures. Photos of my parents,Dr.and Mrs. Harrelson, which they took in 1944 are hanging in my family room. Their work was museum quality. Thanks so much for this information.

  15. Ken,
    Sitting here browsing (or is it sliding) through your on-line presentation of Lueders Studio
    pictorial history. What a Sunday afternoon treat! It
    takes someone like you to bring out the beauty and
    lifetime dedication of the Lueders family to this
    community. Your own family portraits reflect Paul
    Lueders’ remarkable talents in getting the best portraits possible. I treasure the years I worked with Paul to turn out wonderful pictures of Central
    High students for The Girardot. Working with him when
    I was a reporter at The Southeast Missourian convinced
    me how dedicated he was to his profession–he never
    missed a deadline for the hundreds of glossy prints he
    turned out of beautiful brides appearing on the
    society pages of the local newspaper. His expertise
    and patience made a special blend of photographic art.
    Thanks for the memories, Ken. (Jo Ann Bock)

  16. Ken – I took a fresh look at my parents portraits from the early 40s and noticed they were by Kassle. They are pretty darn good. Do you know where he was located?

    1. Larry,

      The 1968 City Directory lists Kassel’s Studio as being at 124 North Main Street.

      In other exciting news, Son Matt sent me a photo he took of Paul Lueders when the photo of him above was taken. I’ll probably post it Tuesday.

      It’s a really nice portrait.

  17. Ken,
    Have enjoyed so many of your pictoral journeys into the past. I also was glad to see your family picture with your mom and dad. Your dad and Burl became very good friends. My cousin called one nite about the picture where three men were cleaning a tombstone. He thought the man on the left was my dad, Dib Eaker. It did look like him, but I don’t remember the incident, however I have forgotten a lot of things. Thanks for the memories. Peggy Medlock

  18. Mr Lueders photographed each generation of family and a number of weddings as remembered but no one mentioned our junior and senior pictures that he took for the Girardot.
    He always made you welcome and comfortable when shooting, I guess that is part of what made him so good.

  19. I remember well the difference between the unretouched proof and the final version of a portrait he did of me and my mother. As you said: he was both a fine artist and highly-skilled craftsman.
    Steve Carosello

  20. Ken: The link to Lueders photos at SEMO seems to be dead. You might want to check it.


      1. Hi Ken,
        Here’s a link that works:

        At some point in the past few years our URL schema for the digital collections site changed, and so many old links don’t work now. Sorry about this!

        I’m the new (since last September) Archival Assistant with Special Collections at SEMO. We still use your blog for background research all the time when patrons have questions about Cape history! And we work closely with Dr. Santoro, whose class I know you helped with last year.

        Also, I’m a protege of your friend Carla Jordan– I got my first archival training with her in Altenburg, before I went to library school. I’m a Perryville native, but all of my paternal ancestors were German Lutherans from east Perry or northern Cape County. And my family owns & runs Perryville Pumpkin Farm, which you so graciously blogged about your visit to last fall.

        1. We should meet. I’m going to be in Ohio for about week working with the museum in Athens, but then I’ll be in Cape most of the summer.

          Sounds like we have lots of mutual connections.

          Better warn your students that I commit history only by accident.

  21. Between Lueders Studio and Kassels Studio a tremendous historical archive of Cape Girardeau businesses and events was created. It is very encouraging that Mr. Lueders and my uncle, Jim Haman saw to it that their legacies would be preserved. Thanks to your blog, people seeking information about Cape Girardeau and surrounding environs have a point of contact with helpful information about finding that information. You have created your own legacy.

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